Football: Paulinho close to $64.35 million Barcelona move - reports

Brazil's Paulinho and Australia's Mark Milligan in action on June 13, 2017.
Brazil's Paulinho and Australia's Mark Milligan in action on June 13, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Barcelona (AFP) - Brazilian international midfielder Paulinho is expected to become Barcelona's first signing since losing Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, according to widespread reports in the Spanish media on Saturday.

Barca are reportedly willing to meet the 29-year-old's €40 million (S$64.35 million) buyout clause with Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande.

Catalan radio station Rac1 described the move as "very close", citing sources close to the player.

Paulinho could even be presented as early as Monday, Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo reported.

Barca have so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to land a more natural replacement for Neymar with huge bids for Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele being rejected by Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

Paulinho failed to shine in his most recent spell in Europe during two years at Tottenham Hotspur before moving to Guangzhou in 2015.

However, he has established himself as a regular in a rejuvenated Brazil side since the appointment of Tite as coach a year ago, most notably scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 win away to Uruguay in World Cup qualifying back in March.